CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Do-rags and bonnets have long been protective hair products in the Black community, but some associate the hair cloth with criminal activity and poverty. For the third year, a local group is celebrating the accessory with its own dedicated festival.
Visual artist Dammit Wesley says growing up, he didn't like wearing a do-rag to bed, but his mom made him.
"I hated it. I did not like how it felt. I put it on, wore it to sleep, woke up, my hair was flat," Wesley said.
It wasn't until the 2000s, when it became mainstream, thanks hip-hop culture, that he embraced it.
"The do-rag was going through a renaissance. Everybody had a do-rag on. Nelly almost single-handedly revived it and put it on a pedestal," he said.
Wesley, a South Carolina native, creates art about Black culture. After his love-hate relationship with the do-rag, Wesley says he wanted to reclaim the head wear, known for keeping Black hair from frizzing and creating waves, as a symbol of beauty.
"I figured, what would be Blacker than having a full-out do-rag festival. It's one of the few artifacts of our culture that could not be appropriated," Wesley said.
So, three years ago, he founded the Durag Festival, to showcase its history and dismiss the stereotypes.
"There are things that we have been taking, that were once deemed 'ghetto, or hood or poor' and we've been turning these things into multi-million dollar ideas.
Wesley compares do-rag and bonnets to crowns saying he wants to crown members of the community while providing an unapologetically Black celebration.
"It's important that I see Black people enjoying themselves in a space that celebrates them," he said.
Durag Fest is coming up June 19. The celebration falls on Juneteenth, a celebration of enslaved people finally being freed in Texas. Events include a do-rag hall of fame, a deep wave brunch and an after party at Camp North End. Visit this site for ticket information.